Education Pathways

Do you have questions about how to catch-up with your education, how to get to university, or how to get the qualifications you need to find the career of your choice?

Mavar is here for you! Our education specialists have supported dozens of young adults into Higher Education. If you don’t have qualifications, don’t worry, we will help get you onto the educational ladder.

What do I need to do to get to university?
The starting point is usually to acquire GCSEs (or level 2 equivalency) in English and Maths. If your English / Maths is not yet advanced enough to join a GCSE class, you might have to start at a Functional Skills level. The college you attend will assess you and recommend the most appropriate class. It can take a year or so, but these two GCSEs are essential to open more options. Some students also like to add a 3rd GCSE subject – perhaps Science or IT, depending on how much study time you have.

What happens once I have two or three GCSE’s?
Depending on your goals and life plans, your Mavar education mentor might recommend that you progress to an Access to Higher Education course at a local college or Birkbeck University. There are lots of different options and pathways, so you will need to discuss this in depth with your mentor.

How do I apply for grants?
Mavar’s education specialists can help you find out about grants and loans, through public sources such as Student Finance England, and through private education charities.

Can Mavar help financially?
Yes. Mavar offers grants to help students who need a top-up, over and above the funds available elsewhere. To apply for a Mavar education grant click here. Several Mavar members also have education sponsors.

What if I’m struggling with my studies?
We have volunteer tutors in a range of subjects to help you, and you will only need to pay £5 per hour for their weekly support. We also have a specially commissioned resource pack about the secular education process with lots of helpful information and website links.


Here are three case studies from Mavar members who are now at university, or about to start. They’ve all taken different paths to get there. As you’ll see, they hugely value the experience and are succeeding beyond all imagination.

Case Study 1

I’m a Hasidic boy from a typical Hasidic family, was raised in an extreme religious environment and of course not much education was involved in my upbringing, in fact I skipped English classes in school knowing that I’d get away with it as it’s only English. It’s not like I’ve missed ‘kodesh’ classes!

Last year, around May, I decided that I want to go to university in order to expand my knowledge, maybe build a better future and be able to make it out there in the “outside” world. Naturally having no prior education and no real perspective what university life is about and how to get in, I turned to a guy I knew and discussed with him the process and he advised me to contact Mavar.

Mavar wasted zero time. As soon as I made contact, Mavar got me in touch with a mentor who made sure that I’m on the right path, in the right mind-set to enter university, and that the subject I’m choosing is in line with the career I’m pursuing.

After getting the assurance that I’m on the right track, Mavar got to work right away to get me into university. Together with the mentor I have managed to successfully apply for a computing course at Birkbeck University. I started the course in September 2019 and hope to finish by 2022.

The past few months have been life changing as I’ve slowly accustomed to the outside world. It has helped me diversify and gain a tremendous amount of knowledge at the same time. I’m looking forward to a job in IT, and this drives me to focus on my studies.

I can’t express enough how thankful I am to Mavar for getting me to this point. I couldn’t of done it without this wonderful organisation, and I’m really impressed with the speed and efficiency Mavar operates, that they could take a Hassidic boy with no prior education and successfully get him into a university setting in 3 months.

Case Study 2

Roadmap to University

My lack of education began to affect my career prospects quite soon after transitioning into the secular world. I tried to fight it at first: push through my job, determined to prove I could make it. I had fought hard to achieve my BA in a foreign country, in a typical Charedi manner, drawing upon my religious studies from Sem. I had experience working in the Charedi sector, and I had assumed that would be enough.

I began a job in the secular world and did not pass my probationary period. I understood then that the only way forward was to undergo professional training and gain a recognised qualification. Back in the Charedi world, this had never been an issue. I was left with the stark realisation that my next academic year would be living on a student budget and studying. I began by picking out my 3 choices of Universities: my ‘reach’ choice, (that is, a Russel Group university which was my preference though possibly a stretch considering my background), as well as two universities lower on the rank table. Before applying, I checked if they would accept my BA. I spent months tracking down old certificates to send to them. My next issue was my lack of Science GCSE, a pre-requisite for my course. I sat it in late June with ‘’ and passed. However, some of my University choices did not accept this equivalence and I found out, too, that others would not accept my BA.

I received an offer from my 3rd choice university on the day that my 1st choice invited me down for an interview. I had sent them all the documentation, but their response was so slow I had given up on them. However, I received an offer from my 1st (‘reach’) choice in late July and moved down in August. I had never expected to get in.

It strikes me that life at University keeps me stumbling across situations that are a first. First time sitting in a large lecture hall, first time eating lunch with a group of fellow students and gossiping, first time I am expected to have a casual wardrobe. I do not think I will ever forget my first research paper or when I realised that there is an entire library of academic books where people remain quiet and I am able to stand and delve and learn.

I love writing, I love research, but I did not realise I would find satisfaction in being surrounded by academic books in front of my once-forbidden computer, exploring a topic in depth. I have always questioned, analysed, argued. I have always been curious, inquisitive, interested. But I have also always been criticised for it. Although these traits led me to leave the religion I grew up in, I have never considered the fact that they may be valuable; that the research community thrive on these very traits. I looked forward to lectures. I questioned their idea and they challenged my thinking. I found the library, endless information packed tightly into stacks of books. I had no idea how I would do my first assignment, but in the end, it led me. I made mistakes that cost me marks, but I embraced them, because it prepared me for my next paper.

I chose to explore a topic closely relating to my upbringing. I went through countless cups of coffee, I poured over myriads of books and journal articles, I began to describe 10 hours of work as an insignificant amount of time. I edited and re-edited, wrote and re-wrote until the words blurred into sleep. The day I sent off my paper, I slept for 3 days straight. My energy was gone, I felt nothing at all, and when I woke up again, I hoped for a Pass. It turns out that I, whose dreams were of marriage and babies and where university was scoffed, achieved in the top 2%. I, who doubted my intellectual ability because my questions were always shunned, got a place in a top university, and had my work recommended for publishing.

Most people,
Go around life,
Never comprehending how easy it comes for them.
They don’t spend ages thinking,
Before each word they say,
Each act they do,
Afraid they will get it wrong.

Most people don’t blindly nod their heads in conversation, 
no idea at all who the conversation is about,
but still absolutely sure that the others mustn’t know that.
When I finally recognise a name or a face that they’re talking about, 
My brain shouts, yes! I know! 
So loud that I’ve missed the rest of the conversation
And still have to nod pretending I’ve followed all along.

Most people don’t spend hours looking through their wardrobe, 
Unsure what is appropriate to wear, 
Because despite hours of shopping, 
The confidence still isn’t there.

Most people know what to eat, 
What to wear, 
How to talk the talk. 
They know what’s normal, 
And what’s what. 
What’s appropriate, 
And what isn’t.

But then, I’m not most people.

Case Study 3

I moved to London 3 years ago without any GCSEs but with big dreams. Mavar helped me every step of the way.

I started with English GCSE, which I studied for at Gateways (JW3). I completed this over 6 months whilst working full time. The following September I enrolled at CONEL College, where I took evening classes for Maths GCSE, and simultaneously took an online Science GCSE course.
Due to the workload I left my full time job and got a part time job as an Assistant Manager in a charity shop.

After completing my GCSEs I moved on to an Access to Higher Education in Science course at Morley College. The course was fantastic and my preliminary results helped me attain conditional offers from five top universities. I have accepted an offer from Sussex University to study Ecology, Conservation and Environment, and will be starting there in September 2020.